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Tummy Tuck Versus Liposuction

Tummy Tuck Correcting Vertical Scar Tummy Tuck Correcting Vertical Scar.

Patients with extra padding of the tummy, loose skin, and separated muscles want the easiest, least expensive procedure to reach their goals. Totally understandable.

“I just want liposuction.”

“Can’t you just do a mini tummy tuck?”

“I don’t want a full tummy tuck!”

But if liposuction and mini tummy tucks fixed all the tummy problems, why would anyone ever get a full tummy tuck? They wouldn’t. So how do you know who should have what? Keep reading.

Liposuction of the Abdomen

SmartLipo of the Tummy

SmartLipo of the Tummy

What can liposuction of the tummy do?
1.Reduce the bulge of fat.
2.Tighten the skin a modest amount with laser heat (eg. SmartLipo).

Who is a Good Candidate for liposuction of the abdomen? Someone with:
1.Good skin tone.
2.No hanging skin or folds.
3.No stretch marks.
4.Good six-pack muscles without a separation.

What happens with a Bad Candidate for abdominal liposuction?
An abdominal liposuction patient with poor skin tone, hanging skin, folds, stretch marks, and/or separated six-pack muscles will be at greater risk of having:
1.An irregular surface with lumps and valleys.
2.Looser skin.
3.Hanging skin.
4.Persistent abdominal protrusion.

Mini (“Bikini”) Tummy Tuck

Mini Tummy Tuck ("Bikini" Tummy Tuck)

Mini Tummy Tuck (“Bikini” Tummy Tuck)

What can a Mini Tummy Tuck (“Bikini” Tummy Tuck) do?
1.Tighten the skin of the lower abdomen.
2.Tighten the muscle separation below the belly button.

Who is a Good Candidate for a Mini Tummy Tuck? Someone with:
1.Loose skin of the lower abdomen.
2.Tight skin of the upper abdomen.
3.No folds of the upper abdomen.
4.Good muscle contour with minimal to no separation.

What happens with a Bad Candidate for Mini Tummy Tuck?
A Mini-Tummy-Tuck patient with loose skin and folds of the upper abdomen and a noticeable muscle separation will be at greater risk of having:
1.Persistent loose skin of the upper abdomen.
2.A thinner, flatter lower abdomen that doesn’t match the fuller, thicker upper abdomen.
3.Bulging of the upper abdomen if the lower muscles are repaired.

Full Tummy Tuck

Full Tummy Tuck

Full Tummy Tuck

What can a Full Tummy Tuck do?
1.Tighten the skin of the entire front of the abdomen.
2.Remove the crinkly skin that some women have above the belly button.
3.Remove all the skin and fat from the belly button to the pubic hairline.
4.Tighten the 6-pack muscles.
5.Thin out the layer of fat by stretching the skin/fat above the belly button all the way down to the pubis.
6.Improve the abdominal contour with the muscle repair.
7.Improve back support with the muscle repair.

Who is a Good Candidate for a Full Tummy Tuck? Someone with:
1.Loose or stretchable skin above and below the belly button.

What happens with a Bad Candidate for Full Tummy Tuck?
A Full Tummy Tuck patient with tight, unstretchable skin will be at greater risk for having:
1.A vertical midline scar in addition to the low horizontal scar.
2.A horizontal scar at a level higher than the pubic hairline to avoid a vertical scar.
3.A predisposition for a widened or thick horizontal scar.

What is Best for You?

Before you get your mind set on the which procedure you want to have, consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon with good before-and-after photographs. A cosmetic surgeon who is not certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery may talk you into having abdominal liposuction or a “bikini” tummy tuck simply because he hasn’t had the training to do a full tummy tuck. He may even tell you all the reasons why you shouldn’t have one done. So if you want to know what procedure is best for your body and your goals, choose your plastic surgeon wisely!

Dr. Heather Furnas

About Dr. Heather Furnas

Inspired by watching her plastic surgeon father operate in African bush hospitals, Dr. Heather Furnas followed in his footsteps, training at Stanford and serving on the Harvard clinical faculty. She and her husband, Dr. Paco Canales, practice together in Santa Rosa, California, where they raised their two children. (To learn more about their practice, visit She believes an informed patient is more likely to be a happy patient and is committed to providing that education. If you have any suggestions for topics you'd like to learn more about, she would love to hear from you!

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